I am ashamed to say that my first post is concerned with something so… trivial. Big surprise, I, like many other early 20-somethings, am in the infamous quest for “big-kid” employment. The search has officially consumed most of my consciousness and daily activities. I sit on my parents’ couch, endlessly apply for positions posted on “Tom Manatos” and “Idealist.” I have become self-conscious of my CV, rather than my character or actions. I spend my days searching the internet for jobs, not my usual news sites, progressive blogs, or favorite Anthropology journals. My peers’ successes have become a source of envy, not praise and support. Somehow, the “hunt” that is the “purpose” of obtaining a degree, has left me beginning to abandon the ideals and valuable knowledge I gained throughout my undergraduate career.
My issue with all of this is not the highly publicized “economic-crisis” that showcase the large unemployment problem in the United States (but of course ignore Capitalist economic and social practices and beliefs as a foundation to this problem). Many “how-tos” loom the search pages of Google in an attempt to help new graduates to be “competitive candidates” and “land the perfect job” while within the coined “great recession.” But what exactly are these advice articles telling the fresh batch of graduates? Competitively pursue high-paying employment to afford all of life’s many necessities! Err, I mean luxuries. Ah! The life of Mercedes, Juicy Couture and over-priced Whole Foods – now that’s success! Only then is your education validated and your future secure. Philosopher Noam Chomsky sums up a similar argument in one of my favorite quotes:
Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt they can’t afford the time to think. Tuition fee increases are a disciplinary technique, and by the time students graduate, they are not only loaded with debt, but have also internalized the disciplinarian culture. This makes them efficient components of the consumer economy.
Combining my disgust for competitive job “hunting” and the mass accumulation of student debt, I can articulate my own reality.
Like many of my peers, my chance at education rested in my ability to put myself (financially) through school* This required abilities to obtain loans and various scholarships. With my 6-month grace period to pay of my debt quickly approaching an end, I have no time to “travel through Europe” and “find myself.” I need to land a job… and fast. So despite my criticism of capitalism, the patriarchy, and un-paid internships, I have continued to be an ally. As much as I articulate my criticisms and identify as a Feminist, I am still going about the same actions of those I debate against.
I have a mass-amount of privilege and cultural capital. Therefore, I will eventually land a job. I don’t struggle to find food and shelter – while I have grappled with homelessness. So I can deal with my period of unemployment. However, I find my biggest task to be remaining allied with Feminism and Socialism. In theory, it’s a match make in idealistic heaven. In reality, I am paired with my consuming, capitalism counter-parts. My inner dialogue when job searching include: “Well, sure I could be an Administrative Assistant for a non-profit whose mission statement – while includes some valuable concerns- excludes non-privileged demographics and underlying issues. I mean, it does pay and I do have those loan payments coming up…” UGH.
So where does that leave folks like me? Folks that grew with education and/or experiences to find their bubble was not what it seemed. Folks that understand the complex web of oppression and have desire to change it. Folks that analyze and ask questions, rather than take their perceptions as ultimate, all encompassing truths. My over-simplified answer: In the same ol’ place.
*When I state that I put myself through school, I do not ally with traditional individualistic notions. “Individual hard work” as the sole reason for acquired success makes absolutely no sense to me. Therefore, here I acknowledge the financial and social support I received until I was 18 that put me in a position to apply for college and thrive. Also, the familial and peer support I continue to receive continues to put me in a place to pursue careers and unpaid blogging and writing.